Chapter 4. The Acquisition of the Ergative Case in Hindi as a Foreign Language

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Using the framework of Processability Theory (PT), this chapter examines the development of the Hindi case system in the interlanguage of Dutch-speaking foreign language learners. A number of studies have already adopted the PT framework to describe, predict and explain the development of case marking systems in different languages (e.g., German, Russian and Serbian). These studies demonstrated that PT was a suitable framework for predicting and explaining case development. Because German, Russian and Serbian are accusative languages, the question arises whether PT as a conceptual framework is also applicable to the foreign language acquisition of a language with ergative features such as Hindi. The present chapter therefore addresses case development in L2 Hindi, thereby testing the claim that PT possesses universal applicability. Spontaneous oral production data were collected from 11 foreign language learners of Hindi. In accordance with PT, the study results indicate that three stages of development occur; in particular, learners begin with no feature unification, transition through direct mapping, and eventually attain feature unification.


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